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I've just sent out this month's edition of The Last Working Day Of The Month, which is frankly PACKED with thrilling information, not least the FACT that you can now listen to the lead track off our new single, Do The Indie Kid, over on our MYSPACE. Go listen, we think it sounds GRATE!
(Nearly) April In Paris
Myself and The Bread In My Boulangerie went to PARIS for the weekend - C'est CHIC, n'est pas? It was BRILLIANT!
Part of this brilliance was because it was SO INCREDIBLY EASY - we got to St Pancras, stocked up on GRUB (i have Past Experience of France and Veggie-NESS!), checked in and... er... that was it! It took about TEN MINUTES!!
We ZOOMED away from The Best Train Station In The World on a train which seemed to be PACKED with Americans, including The Most American Man EVER. He was about 900 years old, had sunglasses, a checked jacket, a bright orange shirt and a bootlace tie, and a MASSIVE New York Accent. MAME talking to small child: "Hey Dere big feller!" If he had then said "WHY I OUGHTA!?!?!" and "EXCELSIOR!" i would not have been surprised, he was BRILLIANT.
We got to Gare de Nord to find it NOT HALF as good as St Pancras - on the way back it actually turned out to be totally RUBBISH in comparison, and I felt suddenly PROUD. It's not very often (hardly ever, in fact) that the BRITISH version of something is half as clean/efficient/nice/impressive as The Continental Version, ESPECIALLY when it comes to travel, but St Pancras completely RULES. Also, ROOLZ. It's no wonder everyone bangs on about it so much, it is GRATE.
Anyway, we strolled off the train and were straight onto the Metro - funnily enough, the OTHER thing that is better in the UK. The Metro is MUCH cheaper and the tickets are MUCH easiet than the London Underground, but BLOODY HECK it isn't HALF difficult to understand. We went through entrance 3 to platform C to get the B train number 2, and had to NOT use platform 3 to get the C train from platform B via entrance 2, as that would have been WRONG. AND you have to know exactly where the train ends up - something which they DO NOT show on the smaller maps. At least they now have a London Underground ESQUE vaguely comprehensible MAP these days, but goodness me, it is DIFFICULT.
Handily i had RESEARCHED the trip on WIKI so it was all PEASY and, less than four hours after leaving our house, we were in our hotel!! It was BONKERS! Being extremely English (and becoming more so as i GRACEFULLY MATURE) I was already HANKERING for a Nice Cup Of Tea, but alas this need was not to be sated. BRAVELY (also i had a COLD which had just come on, but i don't like to mention it) we set out to look at Notre Dame and saw an Open Topped Bus Tour go by. We have a mighty SHARED LOVE of The Open Top Bus Tour so HOPPED ON and spent a happy hour or so looking at PARIS. PAris is LOVELY - you may have heard other people mention this.
We hopped OFF at The Eiffel Tower, which is BRILLO, had a look around, and then got the (EXTREMELY CONFUSING) tube home. Next day we STROLLED across town back to The Eiffel Tower, filmed a bit for the vidoe of Do The Indie Kid and decided NOT to spend 2 hours queueing for the lift to the top. Instead we hopped BACK on the bus and saw some more SIGHTS before ALIGHTING back at Notre Dame for some BEER and some CHIPS. CLASSY!
I know I haven't mentioned it much but i was actually QUITE POORLY, so we headed home for a KIP (KNACKERED) before flying out AGANE in the evening to look at Sacre Couer. It's a funny old place - it looks like someone has got a Cathedral and SQUISHED it to fit into a suitcase - but it DOES have GRATE views, and we also got to add a FUNICULAIR RAILWAY to our collection of same. HOOPLA!
Next day we had a lie-in, packed our bags, and trundled off to enjoy a lunchtime chat with my pal from school Phillipa, who i had not seen for about EIGHTEEN YEARS. I think that's the longest i've gone between MEETINGS of people, and it felt ODD to sit and chat and then think "AK! nearly 20 years of LIFE has passed since last we spoke! EEK!" We're having a school reunion in a couple of weeks, i think i will have to get USED to this experience pretty swift-ish!
Stopping off only for FALAFEL we then headed back to Gare De Nord (see above: not a PATCH on St Pancras) and before you knew it were back in Blighty. ANOTHER thing that is GRATE about coming home via St Pancras is that it's NOT Waterloo, or Victoria, or Paddington, or any of the other, frankly, A BIT STINKY stations that you have to come into if you're FLYING into London. It must be a bit disappointing if you are a TOURIST coming to The UK to have your first experience of Swinging London being a rattling tube train into some smelly underground station, but arriving at St Pancras, it filled me with PATRIOTIC PRIDE.
I really like it, can you tell? And thus, with a few hours of munching falafel by the Seine, we were home and having that NICE CUP OF TEA I had so hankered for. The International Rail Travel, it is BLOODY GRATE!
GRATE news (if you are ME!) today, as it turns out that the May 1st gig with Frankie Machine and Mr Phil Wilson is BACK ON! WAHEY! I am, to say the least, CHUFFED about this, especially as it means we once again get to back Phil up on a couple of songs. Excitement levels? HIGH!
We're On The Radio!
I tuned into Steve Lamacq's show yesterday at about 4.30pm to hear him saying "We're looking for songs where the song itself describes the dance step that goes with it." "ZOINKS!" think I, "That's 'Do The Indie Kid'!" so IN i emailed. Half an hour later he came back to the item and said "... inspired by a single called 'Do The Indie Kid' by MJ Hibbett & The Validators, which we'll be playing after the six o'clock news". Ah! Also, AHA! Also also, ZANG!!
Thus, for almost the first time, I not only KNEW we were going to be on the radio, but was able to sit and LISTEN to it, and think "WHOOO!!!" for LO! It sounded DEAD GOOD! I especially GRINNED like a LOONIE when it got to the The Music Of The Future bit, thinking a) WE made that noise and b) it's going out live on National Radio!
It was all VERY exciting - I wonder if it'll get played again? My hope: YES PLEASE!
ITEM! As a couple of people have spotted, I've taken the May 1st gig in Nottingham OFF the GIGS page, as it looks like it's cancelled. This is EXTREMELY disappointing, as it was going to involved not only a Frankie Machine set, not only a Phil Wilson set, but ALSO us BACKING Mr Wilson on a couple of songs! I've only heard about this from Phil so far, so have emailed Sam The Promoter to a) check and b) offer my services as stand-in promoter on the day, so MAYBE it'll get un-cancelled. I HOPE so!!
ITEM! BUT there are NEW gig details ALSO on the GIGS page, including a rather SPECIAL night in LEICESTER on May 22nd when we'll be playing the The Deirdres and The Mai 68s. This, I think, will be BRILLIANT.
ITEM! If anybody WAS at The Battersea Barge gig, and took any photographs, could they let me know? There was a GRATE bit where loads of people suddenly RAN to the stage and started taking pictures of ME. It must have been ME they were photographing - the only other thing going on was Lola dancing The Indie Kid beside me, and surely a small child dancing is less interesting than a drunk me bellowing, right?
Crikey, it has been a LONG weekend! Much of Friday was spent preparing for the arrival of our Very Special Guests, The Pattisons, who were over for a visit, also to ROCK. They arrived Friday evening ready for a Big Day Out on Saturday when we went to look at Harrods (BUSY) before dividing our forces so that The Price Cuts In My Sale and Emma could go off looking at some SHOPS, while Tim and I took The Girls to The Natural History Museum.
Almost unbelievably we were NOT the only people to have this idea and had to queue for AGES to even GET IN. When we did so we decided NOT to queue for even longer to see most of the dinosaurs, so went and looked at everything else instead. They seemed to have decided to throw you in at the deep end by having LOADS of diagrams and models of RUDE BITS as soon as you go in to the first bit (Lola: "that's the inside of someone's bottom!" Edie: "Look! Two willies!") and then make up for it by having a HALL OF KRAZY MIRRORS just afterwards. We were in that bit for a LONG time.
Around we wandered for a couple of hours before heading down for a brief stop in The Science Museum (Apollo 10: GRATE! Stephenson's Rocket: WOW! Small Girls: not quite as impressed as we were) and then HOME, rather knackered. I am amazed that people who have children in their house ALL the time a) don't die of being KNACKERED and b) are ever awake past 8pm.
Sunday found us messing around trying to shoot bits of VIDEO ready for our VIDEO. My favourite aspect of this was discovering that Tom doesn't really know ANY of the words to Do The Indie Kid, not even the chorus. "I don't listen to the words!" he PROTESTED. We also had a couple of run-throughs of "To The End", which we'd be performing later, and then headed off to The Battersea Barge.
For LO! It was here that we were due to perform, at The BritPopArt All-Dayer. We arrived to find loads of lovely people we knew there already, and in PLENTY of time to see the ever-excellent Mr Pete Green. He'd chosen "Inbetweener" by Sleeper, which worked VERY well indeed. We were soon joined by Mr Stu and Mrs Clair Gibb, who took on babysitting duty so that we could go onstage an hour or so later and do THIS:
It all seemed to go pretty well - the band before us had had VERY loud vocals, which was GOOD, but also slightly worrying in that if WE had that then people MAY JUST have noticed me forgetting words. "To The End" was a bit ropier than it had seemed in practice, but I think it was OK, and I particularly enjoyed an HUGELY EXTENDED gap between The Music Of The Future and the rest of the song in Do The Indie Kid.
Dr Neil Brown arrived just as we finished, and shortly after THAT The Pattisons set off home, so after hugs galore the rest of us settled into some HEFTY DRINKING. Hmmm. Oh dear me.
At some point after that I took part in "Line Up In Line", the ongoing gameshow for the day, and volunteered Mrs C "Dicko" Gibb to be a contestant too, as The Voice Of Film Four. BRILIANTLY they got her to do some LINK SPEEK to introduce bits of the quiz - i don't think anyone believed she really WAS The Voice Of Film Four... until she spoke. It was BRILL.
Also BRILL was the MUSIC - for the first time in YEARS i knew EVERY song that was played, understood ALL the Music Jokes about obscure bands, and heard LOADS of My Favourite Music whilst outside my own house. It was like being young again my dears!
Later still I was due back on stage to sing "Country House" with the Britpop Allstars. I'd not really worried about this - i'd printed out the words, thought I knew the song, and reckoned it'd be a bit of a drunken free for all. HOWEVER i hadn't counted on two things, 1) everyone else had learnt the songs properly and were doing them really well and 2) i was drunker than expected. Claire came back onstage with me to "help", but i think it may have looked like a fight in a drop-in centre, as the two of us grabbed at the words and BELLOWED random noises into microphones. Oh dear oh dear oh dear. Next morning I awoke with VISIONS OF DOOM as I relived the, frankly, appalling mess I made of it. I apologise PROFUSELY to all concerned.
Rather wonderfully, when I came off, accepting sympathetic handshakes as I went, Mr Pete Green appraised the situation and said "Whisky?" It was NECESSARY.
Soon after THAT it was time to struggle home, aide by a lift to the station by Tigermobile. Next day I felt REALLY RATHER ILL - it must have been all that walking around on Saturday, right?
I love Easter - it's like Christmas For Grown-Ups, you get LOADS of time off work (especially if, like me, you work for a University so get the Thursday and Tuesday off too) but you don't actually have to DO anything, so can LOAF around OR go and do thing YOU want to do. It is BLOODY GRATE!
THIS Easter got off to a good start yesterday with me catching my usual train into town and then instead of going to work heading NORTH, to picturesque DERBY. As it happened Producer Pattison was in London for a MEETING and we met upstairs on the platform and had a quick chat about production. Every few minutes I'd look over at the clock in front of the platforms to check I was OK for time... for about ten minutes, before I realised it had STOPPED, and had to RUN to get my train.
The journey was FINE (i listened to loads of WINGS!) and I got to the studio about TWO MINUTES before Robbie and THUS was PANICKING that he'd forgotten all about it and I'd have to stand in the rain for an HOUR before giving up and walking all the way back to the station and going home and... and then he arrived.
By this point it was 2pm - Tim was coming in at about 5 o'clock so a) we had plenty of time and b) i wanted to make sure there was SOMETHING to do when he arrived and also c) i was ON HOLIDAY, so when Robbie said "What do you want to do know?" I suggested THE PUB.
And hour or so later we got back suitably refreshed and did my new BASS line for It Only Works Because You're Here. Due to the nature of the song Mr FA Machine and I had agreed to SWAP instruments, that it might sound a bit more FLOWERY than usual. Also, i LOVE playing the bass and so have been practicing it up and had a GRATE time doing it. Then it was Electrical Guitar on Red Black Gold, acousticals on the rest (featuring a STRANGE arrangement of microphones that looked like EITHER something really quite rude OR two large PENS touching each other's tips at right angles, which was ABANDONED after a while for A More Conventional Arrangement) and THEN some UKELELE. WHOO!
I'd JUST finished that when Tim came in and proposed an INTRO for Red Black Gold which, once tried out, sounded GRATE. At THIS point a FILM CREW came in (GLAMOUR!!) who had arranged to do some FILMING (it was a SCENE in a local FILM or something) so Tim and I extracted ourselves to the pub over the road for DISCUSSION for half an hour.
Upon our return there were some more electricals and then BOUNCING DOWN so we now HAVE those four songs ready for the others to use for PRACTICE for THEIR bits. We said our fond farewells and headed off, with Tim dropping me at the station for a DELIGHTFUL trip home - when i eventually GOT home i stayed up DEAD LATE (past eleven!!!!!) being WIRED with the EXCITEMENT of it all. It was a GOOD SESSION!
Back back again to The Lamb last night for Totally Acoustic, walking in to find a bunch of my REGULARS already on the BEER. My usual PROMOTER PANIC became PROMOTER PARANOIA this time as i somehow managed to CONVINCE myself that Jimmy (of Jimmy from Bobby McGees fame and thus The Guest ARTISTE) wasn't going to come. In this age of TEXTING and THAT the fact that I'd not heard from him FOR A WEEK made me absolutely certain that something had gone wrong... so when he arrived just after 7pm i was INCREDIBLY RELIEVED.
We had a Mass Room Setting Up as people came upstairs just as I was moving tables, so everyone PITCHED IN, which was rather lovely, and then there was CHAT, also BEER. I always think that The Lamb is a LOVELY pub, and that the only thing which could make it better would be if they had some different beers on occasionally. Last night they not only HAD different beer, but it was Deuchar's IPA! HOOPLA! Thus, i HAD some of it, and ended up chatting to the barman about BEER and so forth. What a GRATE pub!
Soon it was time to FLY into action, and for my first set i did Something A Bit Different i.e. tried out the first CHUNK of My Exciting Life In ROCK, bookended by We're Old And We're Tired (and we want to go home) and I Did A Gig In New York. I THINK it went OK - it might have been a bit long, and perhaps The Davina McCall Joke will be OMITTED in future, but I think it'll be all right. As per my Foolish Fears that ANYTHING i ever do will seem to POLISHED and SLICK were ill founded.
Then Jimmy took to the floor, and was absolutely fantastic. He's got a BRILLIANT way about him when he's in front of an audience, and people were RAPT with attention for his songs and the stories between them. It was FUNNY, it was a bit RUDE, and it was really rather TOUCHING - Jimmy, and indeed The Bobby McGees in BAND format - are so EXCITING and THRILLING to see live that sometimes I forget that a lot of the songs themselves are really MOVING. "Harold & Maude", especially, was lovely.
It's always GRATE when someone you like is REALLY REALLY GOOD, and I was PROUD of my old PAL, and was stood at the bar at half-time with a GIGANTIC GRIN plastered all over my face. Oh yes, if you've not seen The Bobby McGees I would really really really really REALLY recommend you do so at your earliest opportunity.
After that it was me back on again, slightly more lubricated, and i did THIS:
The "Do The Indie Kid" singles went off at the end of last week and it looks like things are just beginning to OCCUR. We had our first radio play last Thursday on Phoenix FM in Scenic Brentwood, and last night had our second (as far as I know), this time on the marvellous Gobstopper show on BBC Teees - it's about 2 hours 20 minutes in if you a) want to Listen Again and b) are in a hurry, but I would VERY MUCH recommend the whole show, as it is ACE.
Meanwhile we got our first review, coincidentally the LAST review on To Hell With, which is sadly closing down. Here it is, IN FULL:
well this is it, my last ever review for tohellwith and i’m glad its a review of mj hibbett & the validators, as they’re an example of one of the bands i would probably never have heard had it not been for this very organ. so this is a sad occasion, but it’s very hard to be sad when you’re listening to one of mr hibbett’s compositions and ‘do the indie kid’ is no exception. delightful jangly uptemo indie with lyrics about early to mid 90’s indie dancing, “hands behind your back, and bounce your hips, move your feet around, and do the indie kid!”. it’s like they came and watched me and my friends dancing down the pink toothbrush anytime from 1997 - 2007. someone get me a pint of cider and black and point me to a sticky dancefloor...
Aah, that's nice isn't it? If you'd like to BUY a copy of the single it'll be available here and on iTunes from April 7th OR, if you're on the mailing list there'll be the usual chance to get it a week EARLY!
There was FRENETIC activity over the weekend in aid of Projects Various, but mostly for My Exciting Life In ROCK. I'm planning to do the first BIT of it at tomorrow night's Totally Acoustic, so realised I'd best get on and start working out what it's meant to be, so after a LOT of THORT and pacing around the house, mumbling to myself, i decided to actually WRITE IT DOWN.
I was a bit nervous of this, as I don't want it to be WEIRD or PRETEND or anything, so went at it like i have done on the past two occasions when I have done public speaking i.e. Jim and Chris's weddings, and that seemed to feel OK. I've now got it worked out pretty much and am LARNING UP, and i must say am quite pleased/relieved about it. It's also given me MUCHO THORTS for how the REST of it is going to go... which is quite a BIG relief as we are now OFFICIALLY GOING!
YASS! On Sunday i logged into the Edinburgh Fringe site and between myself and Mr S Hewitt, got it all pretty much worked out. Here's the final BLURB for the programme:
The Indie legend brings his songs and stories of internet hits ('Hey Hey 16K'), Rolling Stone, Radio One, countless disasters and hundreds of ludicrous gigs. 'A national institution' - Word Magazine. 'Genius' - Steve Lamacq. www.mjhibbett.com
And yes - VERY MUCH YES - it did feel a bit WEIRD to have to describe myself as "Indie Legend", but i guess it has to be done if we want to get people IN. It all went swimmingly until I got to the PAYMENT when, after the money had gone through, I got a "FATAL ERROR" message... but a nice chap from the Fringe Office rang today and is apparently trying to sort it out, so HOPEFULLY that will be officially official, and we will be GO!
Insider Secrets Of The Music Business
Last night The Stylus In My Record Player and I went off on a MISSION, to complete the deliver of the Do The Indie Kid singles. I'd sent most of them off in the post earlier that day, but realised I could save myself at least a TENNER if I delivered the ones for Radio One and 6Music by hand. THUS we met for a swift pre-mission PINT then set off for Western House, home of the aforesaid 6Music.
When we arrived the Security Guy was A Little Arsey with us. "What am I supposed to do with these?" he said "We have no pigeonholes!" This was a bit ANNOYING - they'd not minded when I'd dropped stuff off before, and after all this WAS their address, how was I supposed to know what to do with them? This is one of the Frustrating Things about being a Proper Independent - there's all SORTS of things you could do with knowing that NOBODY will ever tell you, as it's the kind of KNOWLEDGE that is traded as POWER in the iniquitous dying world of The Record Business. Another good example: FESTIVAL BOOKINGS. I'd LOVE for us to play some festivals, but have little or NO idea how to go about it. It is ANNOYING!
Anyway, Security Guy then changed to being Very Helpful, Sort Of, in that he told us where we NEEDED to go to drop off our packages. "CPS!" he said "Go to CPS!" The Crown Prosecution Service? I was PEEVED, but not LITIGIOUS! I'm still not quite sure what he meant, but he gave us instructions on how to get there, then gave them again, then showed us on a map and said "You can't miss it!" We went out a bit confused by his strange shouty instructions and followed the map, missing the "Big window in a car park!" he'd told us about.
After a few walks back and forth however we DID find it - the courier drop off point for the BBC. It WAS indeed a big window, which you had to walk through a medium sized car park to get through, but once we got there we found a couple of VERY friendly chaps who were MORE than happy to take ALL of our packages off us. They were so nice we had to go and have another pint to celebrate! Maybe they don't get to see that many people?
So, if you ever need to drop some packages off for anyone in National BBC Radio (and who knows, maybe local or TV? The nice men said "Oh, you can give us anything for the BBC", so who knows?) and are in The London, then the Courier Drop-Off Point is in Riding House Street, at the end just before you get to Great Portland Street, and you have to walk through a little car park to find it. I offer up this offering to LORD GOOGLE as a INSIDER SECRET: TOLD. Take that, THE MAN!
Fly My Beauties, FLY!
Just back from the post box, where i released into the world the penultimate batch of promo singles. By HECK we're sending out a LOT this time - OK, i know eighty isn't many for STING or somebody, but for Artists Against Success and its limited CA$H POT (my bank account) it is MANY, especially when you're posting HEFTY seven inch singles!
The last few to do are being delivered by HAND to The BBC this evening and then that's it, all we have to do is sit back and wait to have a Massive Global Hit Record! In case anyone fancies listening out (and blimey, if you DO hear the single anywhere, do please let me know), here's the radio stations we've sent it to are (deep breath) BBC Local stations (On The Wire on BBC Lancashire, PMS on BBC Merseyside, Gobstopper on BBC Tees, Raw Talent on BBC Humber/Sheffield, The Beat on BBC Nottingham, Northern Uproar on BBC Newcastle, The Download on BBC Oxford), BBC Scotland, Phoenix Radio, BBC Wales, Xfm Manchester, Xfm Scotland, Totally Wired on Juice FM, 6Music (Freak Zone, Steve Lamacq, Gideon Coe, Tom Robinson, Marc Riley), Radio Two (Mark Radcliffe, Steve Lamacq), Radio One (Zane Lowe, Huw Stephens, Colin Murray, Annie Mac, Mary Anne Hobbes) and Interweb stations (Dandelion, Radio Crystal Blue, Kooba Radio, Radio Seagull). It's also gone to Sandman, Plan B, Rock 'N' Reel, NME, The Word and Record Collector, various fanzines and webpages, and a whole STACK of Indie Discos.
As ever, at the moment, I'm feeling more RELIEF that it's DONE than EXCITEMENT about what'll happen next, but hopefully that'll change if and when things start happening - let's hope so eh?
We Are Top Of The League, Say We Are Top Of The League
I went to THE FOOTBALL last night, to see The Posh at Brentford. I've not been to see them for a few years now, since a HORRENDOUS display on Boxing Day when they lost 5-1 at home, but things had apparently changed quite a lot since then, so I met my brother Thomas in South Ealing and we HIKED to Griffin Park. There we met Mr P Myland in a state of BEER and proceeded to wander round THREE of the FOUR pubs that surround Brentford's ground. I've heard it said SEVERAL times that it is the ONLY ground in the country that has a pub on each corner, and this is only SORT OF true. It has pubs on TWO corners, and pubs OPPOSITE the other two, which isn't quite the same. I guess "the only ground with four pubs really quite close by" isn't quite as impressive.
Mileage's brother arrived, we stood around going "No, HOW OLD did you say you are?" a bit more, and then in we went, pausing only to say "EIGHTEEN QUID? To stand up?" It's a LOT!
The game was GRATE - I always forget how much FUN it is, also how DAFT, with the entire crowd regularly getting distracted from the game (which, after all, WAS very much fourth division standard) when they start singing. BEST ones were the CLASSIC "I'm telling you, support the blue" (whatever it's called - the Posh SINGLE!), shouting "LEWIS!" (like Inspector Morse) at our goalie (who is called Lewis), and BRILLIANTLY a chant of "Tracksuits from Matalan" at a little bunch of Brentford supporters stood nearby who'd tried shouting something at us beforehand.
It was all a LOT of LARFS, probably helped by the fact that We Are Top Of The League (we sung that A LOT) and so everybody was VERY over-excited. It was actually quite a lot like the last couple of gigs I'd been to - quite crowded and full of people my age or older having a lovely time on a couple of beers. The main difference was that it was a LOT easier to squeeze through the crowd to get to the LOO than it had been at The Roundhouse.
In the end we WON 2-1 and so stood around for five minutes singing and, occasionally, dancing. On the way home me and Thomas kept saying things like "Ooh, let's go to a home game! What London teams have we got in League One next year then?" It'll probably be ANOTHER few years before I go again, once I've settled down a bit, but you never know.
As I have mentioned on several occassions, one of the main ENGINES powering our THRUST into ROCK-SPACE is my Database Of ROCK. This contains many things - the mailing list, setlists, gigs past and future, and also EXPENDITURE. I've only been doing this for a couple of years, since i had a MINOR PANIC when a few people bought CDs and i thought "Yoinks! What if The Taxman Cometh?", but since I started I have been quite PROPER about it. All direct expenses, like recording sessions, practices, train tickets and so on go into it, as do all INCOMINGS, like gig payments, CD sales and publishing money. It is a thing of GRATE beauty to me, as it can tell me precisely how much CA$H I have spent over the years, and almost makes me hope that The Taxman DOES come a-calling, so I can say "LOOK! Here are precise records LINKED to the actual reciepts for each item! AHA!"
The other day, after I'd done the COSTS so far for the new single and entered the costs AND sales for All Around My House I thought "I wonder how much i have actually 'LOST' doing this?" The single has been VERY expensive so i have done a LOT of chanting my Mantra Of Why I Am Doing This ("It's not about the money, it's NOT about the money") and THUS wondered what the state of play was. The state of play is this: I "lose" about a GRAND a year, which really is a lot less than you'd "lose" if your hobby was sailing or something, and is a WHOLE LOT more fun, according to me.
And no, i don't include BEER MONEY in the total. That would be foolish!
Anyway, i THEN thought, JUST FOR A BIT OF FUN, what if i didn't include the costs that I wouldn't have counted if it WAS a normal hobby? Stuff like train tickets and accomodation and bits and bobs like that which I tot up JUST IN CASE of Taxman, but wouldn't otherwise have entered my head. What if i removed all that and saw what the balance is between How Much It Costs To Make Records (recording, rehearsing, buying gear, manufacturing, postage) and How Much You Get Out Of It (sales, publishing and gig money).
Prepare yourself for a SHOCK: I AM IN PROFIT! Over the past TWO YEARS I have come out with a CA$H GAIN of precisely SEVEN POUNDS AND ONE PENCE!!!! OH YEAH!
This will change completely by the end of the week, when I'll be buying about twenty quid's worth of stamps to send out the promo copies of the single, but for now i am booking me a LIMOUSIME and getting me some BLING! OVER seven quid! COME ON!
Like Grown-Ups Do
I have RARELY been quite as ADULT as I was this weekend, when myself and The Spice In My Curry headed up to Derby to visit Mr and Mrs Machine. We were going out with another couple, for a meal, on a Saturday night. PASS THE RED WINE!
Terry & June ACTION was avoided by the fact that we were off to see Frankie do a GIG, in one of my favourite pubs ANYWHERE, The Brunswick. We arrived a bit early so were able to enjoy a couple of DELICIOUS pints before our hosts arrived and we went off for a CURRY. The more I explain, the less MATURE it sounds doesn't it? Anyway, we had an ACE time and were in good spirits when we returned to the pub to meet some excellent other people, and descended into CHAT. A glance upstairs earlier had filled me with worry, as it appeared to be VERY MUCH a bit of a Family Do, featuring children dashing around and an IMMENSE buffet, and another look later on found an impromtu band doing Old Fashioned Rock N Roll covers. I was thus a bit TREPIDATIOUS about Frankie going up there to play, and we all sat around chatting WAY past the time we were meant to go upstairs, until The Tracks Of My Railway pointed out that we'd come a long way SPECIFICALLY to see him play, so upstairs we went.
It was a GOOD JOB as, unsurprisingly, he was GRATE. I've not seen him play his own stuff for - astonishingly - a year or two now, and it was LOVELY. Obviously the time spent DECORATING (NB not a metaphor, they moved house last year) has been spent percolating NEW SONGS, as there were MANY of them, and they were GRATE. There was also a couple of older ones, including a cover of Billy Jones Is Dead. "Just so I'm not the only one feeling uncomfortable..." he said introducing it, as if people looking at ME and saying "OOh, YOU'RE song" would make me uncomfortable! The Attention: I am HAPPY with it!
Which is why it wasn't THAT difficult, when Francis had finished, for me to be persuaded to get up and do a couple of songs, as follows:
According to The Notes In My Scale they were BOTH rather MARKEDLY SLOWER than usual. Can't think why THAT would be... and I was joined on Easily Impressed by Frankie on bass, which was GOOD.
The covers chaps came back on after that, and were swiftly followed by the bar staff as it was LONG past last orders, so we had the rather strange experience of being the last people to leave except for the band who were happily playing away as we all went downstairs. There was a TAXI back to Machine Mansions, WHISKY, and BED.
Next day we had a three hour journey home, as the train had to detour through (according to the tannoy) "the beautiful countryisde near Melton, scenic Rutland Water... and Corby." We had cups of coffee, newspapers, and a LOVELY time!
This is now pretty much COMPLETE. I've spent the last few days folding the sleeves (and OH MY but they don't half look pretty) and this afternoon the actual CDs arrived, so I spent a couple of hours putting it all together, stuffing envelopes, and getting them in the post before emailing everyone to let them know they were on the way. I'm EXTREMELY pleased with the way this turned out, both the design of the lovely lovely sleeve and the songs themselves. If you get one I hope you like it!
Project 2: Do The Indie Kid
Envelopes are now fully STUFFED for the promo copies of the single, and along with the All Around My House CDs i also got a batch of CD versions, to go out to people who don't have (or might not have) a record player. TRES COMPETENT ET PROFESSIONAL, NON? I thus spent more time today putting the CDs, sleeves, wallets and back stickers together for these. This weekend I'm sorting out the covering letters and finishing the press release, and then they'll be off at the end of the week. I shall be VERY pleased when they're off!
Project 3: My Exciting Life In ROCK - THE SHOW!
Myself and Mr Hewitt had a PROPER MEETING in the pub last night and got a WHOLE LOT of stuff agreed and sorted out. This one's going to come to the FORE next week as we get on with booking accomodation and completing our Fringe Membership, and I'm also starting to get a clearer idea of what it's actually going to BE and how that will WORK. I'm going to start trying out BITS of it at Totally Acoustic over the next couple of months, so if you're coming to that, consider yrself WARNED!
Project 4: ALBUM FOUR
This is actually fairly quiet at the moment, although we are POISED to spring back into action soon. In a couple of weeks I'm off up to Derby to start on the second half of the vocals and guitar, and the PLAN is to finish the BULK of work on this by the start of MAY, so we can then concentrate on working up THE SHOW.
It's all rather EXCITING, and I THINK we've got it all organised so each thing will happen on time and EFFICIENTLY but also WITHOUT impinging on anything else. It's going to be a GOOD SUMMER!
Last night myself and The Grape On My Vine were even MORE Modern And Sophisticated than usual, as we gathered around my great big computer monitor to watch a YouTube video, whilst drinking some red wine. I KNOW!
It's a chap called Jules with whom i have Previously Corresponded, doing a rather ACE cover version of A Million Ukeleles, complete with TWIDDLY BITS not found on the original version. Aah, it's ace, i am WELL chuffed!
Sir W Of B
The Slogan On My Placard and I headed once again for Chalk Farm last night, to see Mr Billy Bragg at The Roundhouse. I was BRIM FULL of Trepidation, as the last couple of times I'd seen him had been with The Blokes, his band of... well, shall we just saying they're "musicianly"? Or shall I go on to say that they're smug WOMAD-isms and DREARY influence manage not only to make some of my favourite EVER songs sound deadly dull, but GARNISH them by turning Mr Bragg's songwriting MUSE into something terribly worthy but completely free of FUN? I think i went on...
I'd bought the NEW album on Monday, and went for the Special DELUXE edition, which as well as the normal full-band album had the entire thing AGAIN, but done solo. I suspect either Mr Bragg OR his record company know there are SEVERAL people who feel this way, and so were CATERING to them - the solo one was much more like old times, but it did FEEL like lots of the songs were written with a band in mind, INSOMUCH as they felt a bit empty, or unfinished, like instead of getting to the punchline he was allowing a BAZOOKI to do the talking.
So yes, I had my DOUBTS. We met with Mr S Hewitt and PALS (including Juliet From uk-indie, who i later realised I hadn't seen for the best part of a DECADE) in the upstairs bar and straight away displayed NOUS garnered from previous visits by going to the SPEED BAR inside the stage area, rather than the tiny crowded SLOW BAR on the outside. I give this HOT TIP to you, should you ever go!
Inside Steve pointed out a GOOD SIGN: there was absolutely no band equipment, just a couple of amps, a guitar stand, and a microphone. Could it be... a SOLO SHOW?!?
It was! HOORAH! Billy came out on his own and BLASTED into the first couple of songs, and everything started to get GRATE. There was a LOT of talking, but a LOT of songs too, mostly of the older variety (tho i still find it strange to think of songs off of "William Bloke" as old - surely that only came out last year?), tho with the expected quota of NEW stuff - it was very noticeable that every time he played a new song he'd introduce it off the back of an old one, trying to show it in the same TRADITION of his older stuff. It did sound better in those circumstances, with "I Keep Faith" suddenly getting MUCH better, tho the others did still feel a bit lacking.
Another example of SKILFUL GIG MANAGEMENT: almost exactly half way through the alloted time he did a new one followed by TWO of the "Mermaid Avenue" songs, almost as if he was giving everybody PLENTY of time to get to the loo and back. I was very grateful!
The rest of the gig tho was BRILLIANT, and by the end the entire room was at FULL BELLOW. The encore was even better as he came back and did the ENTIRETY of "Spy Vs Spy", it was AMAZING. I left with my ears ringing, a big silly grin on my face, and respect RENEWED. Thanks Billy!
Seven Inches Of Pleasure
They're here! I got a call mid-morning from our reception to let me know that several VERY big boxes had arrived for me, so I tripped merrily upstairs to discover that the singles had arrived! HOORAH!
I was dubious about the idea of doing vinyl singles, but goodness me they don't HALF look nice, there's something incredibly PROPER about them, especially when, frankly, they look so VERY VERY GRATE as these ones do. I'll put the cover up online soon when we start doing the proper pre-release THRILL FRENZY, but you've got to have one in yr hand to appreciate just how DELIGHTFUL they are. OOH!
I'm well chuffed that they've got here so quickly, now I've got to STEEL myself NOT to get all over-excited and send them out early. The whole PROMO PLAN has been organised so that we've plenty of time to get them in the post to DISCOTHEQUES, radio and so forth, in good time for the release date BUT no so long beforehand that everybody just forgets about it. It's still VERY tempting just to get them in the post NOW and eagerly wait for people to LIKE it, but i must be STRONG!
I negotiated the MAZE of Still-Running TUBE on Sunday evening to eventually reach Chalk Farm and MONKEY CHEWS, where I was playing at the Anything Goes club. It was in Proper Camden - some of it loooked dead posh, some of it really didn't, and around every corner a fashionably unshaven twit in a silly little hat could be seen PONCING. CAMDEN!
I arrived a bit late and was full of apologies, but found Jim'll (AkA Jim'll's Brains) and Hattie (BOSS) dashing around trying to fix PA systems and wires and that. I was really chuffed to be asked to play, as i am quite keen on doing some CABARET type gigs in the RUN-UP to going to Edinburgh, but I was pre-GIRDED for it all to be a bit different to the ROCK gigs, and indeed it was. Not long after I arrived one of the other acts emerged from the ladies' loo, where he'd been putting his costume on, and was now IN CHARACTER. You don't get THAT sort of thing at The Bull & Gate!
Downstairs I was very happy to be joined by Mr J Norledge and Mr P Knight, and we returned upstairs to BAGSY some seats before the evening kicked off, which it did with me doing the first set, as follows:
It seemed to go OK - I did it without the PA system and people appeared to quite like it, tho previous experience has taught me to be WARY at these sort of gigs, as people are always very SUPPORTIVE (i say it like it's a BAD thing!) and so it's very easy to think "Wow! I must be GRATE!" just because people clap, when really they're being nice, also polite, and are really just waiting for their pals to come on.
Anyway, the evening got going proper after that and it was EXCITINGLY VARIED. There were some dead dead good people on - Hattie the host was really good, she made the whole evening feel friendly and NICE, and there were a couple of comics who had some GRATE gags - WARNING! Anybody who sees me in the next couple of weeks will be TOLD the Tony Blair Joke of one of the first comedians, as it was HILARIOUS, also CLEVER. Jim'll was also on towards the end and he was CHARMING and also BRILLIANT as usual - i'll hopefully be having him on at a Totally Acoustic night in May, he is GRATE.
The other acts were ALL SORTS of varied - it's funny with comedy (ME MAKE JOKE!), as unlike THE ROCK there is not entry-level filtering system. To do a gig you need to at LEAST either a) learn some sort of instrument, at least to the level of being able to switch it on and make a noise OR b) be able to persuade other people to do it for you while you shout over the top and usually c) have some songs written or learnt. For Stand-up all you need is to THINK you can do it, and you CAN. This is of course GRATE and a bit PUNK, but sometimes (NOT always) can make for a bit of a confusing act, like the guy who made a pretend copy of a celebrity magazine and then... er... read out of it. Another bloke got up and started off being ALMOST Slightly 70s Racist by talking in Comedy Foreign accent, but then did some HILARIOUS stuff about GHOST POO, and also album covers, so HEY! is swings and roundabouts, no?
There was also some LEWDNESS, as a poet called ERNESTO got up and did an Actually Quite Good POEM - it was attention grabbing due to the Graphic Homosexual Nature of his subject matter... although personally the only thing i found A Bit Much was the GRAPHIC description of Belly Button Licking. Come on, there's NO NEED for that is there? During his second poem he gradually removed his clothes so that he did his third one ENTIRELY NAKED. It was a bit RUM, tho as my GYM has communal changing rooms i am Surprisingly Used to seeing Naked Gay Men chatting, so felt a bit left out!
The chap who came on after him had a DVD playing of ZOMBIES behind him, for a song he was doing about ZOMBIES, which was a good idea except that it also had NUDE LADIES in it, so everyone was watching THAT a bit more than perhaps he might have liked. Bless him, he seemed very pleased with all the WHOOPING and APPLAUDING going on, every time a lady took off her bikini, i don't think he realised!
It was, to be frank, A BIT MENTAL. After Jim'll and another dead good comedy guy it was ME for the final act, when I once again went sans-PA and did THIS:
There weren't many people left by this point - most of the audience had come for acts in the first THIRD of the show (there were two intervals) and they, and the acts themselves, had mostly gone home. However, there were TWO lads who'd just wandered in on a birthday pub crawl, with the birthday boy getting a bit LAIRY. It was actually quite sweet to see his equalled drunk but less Generally Lairy MATE trying to, on the one hand, back up his PAL and let the tiddly good times roll, but ALSO to try and control him without embarrassing him. It was SWEET.
However, it was interfering with the gig bits, and as usual ONE finds ONESELF in the position of Teacher with Disruptive Pupil - ignore him, and he'll get rowdier and angrier and create a bad atmosphere, pay too much attention and you encourage him and leave out everybody else. It's DIFFICULT, but I found, without PA, that simply by standing in front of him facing into the rest of the room i was able to quieten him down - perhaps it is like with a PARROT, when DARKNESS encourages them to sleep?
It was all very enjoyable anyway, and also A BIT KRAZY - I was VERY relieved when Jim'll told me afterwards that this had been the MOST KRAZY one they'd ever done, as, FUN tho it was, I don't know if i'd be able to take six months of doing LOADS of gigs like that!